Jerusalem: Israeli soldier Elor Azaria was found guilty of the manslaughter of Abdul Fatah al-Sharif, 21, in Hebron of the West Bank in March last year, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison by the Israeli Court.
The Palestinian, Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, was lying on the ground wounded and unarmed when Azaria shot him in the head. He had also recorded on a mobile phone video as he fatally shot the Palestinian who had allegedly attacked a soldier with a knife and wounded him.
Azaria had told a colleague that Sharif, who had stabbed another soldier, “deserved to die”. Israeli military chiefs condemned his actions, but others praised him.
After the hearing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the soldier should be pardoned.
Speaking from outside the military court in Tel Aviv, Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan said that this case had “polarised Israeli society.”
“The army says that Azaria was in violation of rules of engagement, while the left-wing say this is simply about the dehumanization of Palestinians, or a symptom of a much wider national psyche here,” Khan said.
In Israel, military service is compulsory for most Jewish men, and soldiers enjoy widespread sympathy and support. Israel’s Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman issued a statement urging the soldier’s family not to continue appealing. “It’s a difficult day,” he said adding the ruling must be respected.
He said the military’s Chief of Staff should be asked to pardon him. “I have no doubt he will take into consideration the difficult circumstances,” he said.
“Upholding the conviction of a soldier convicted of fatally shooting a man who posed no threat sends an important message about restrictions on the lethal use of force,” said Sari Bashi, the Israel and Palestine advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.
Israeli forces, since 2015, have killed more than 256 Palestinians; Israel has said that most of them were attackers, others died in clashes.